Faster Than A Speeding Donor
Web and online: You’ve got about one second, tops.
In a previous article I wrote for FundRaising Success, I stated that the attention span for most of us when we are on the Web is that of a caffeinated finch. There are a number of eye-tracking studies that have been conducted on Web readers that bear this out.
The first finding that might seem counterintuitive is that headlines draw the eye before pictures do. Now, before all you graphic designers out there take up your pitchforks and torches and come looking for me, I suggest you first head over to the Polynter Institute, the Estlow Center and Eyetools, because it was they who collaborated on these studies and published the results.
But the point (no pitchfork pun intended) we should walk away with here is that no matter how gorgeous the eye candy on your Web site, splash page or HTML e-mail might be, it will not make up for weak headlines and will not keep people on your Web site or reading your online appeal.
This study also determined that people scan the first couple of words in headlines and copy. This doesn’t mean you should only use short headlines, but it does mean that even if you use long headlines, you should front-end load them with your most important and provocative words if you hope to have people continue reading. This also builds a good case for getting your searchable key words upfront in your headlines and body copy as well, so that search engines can readily categorize and rank you properly.
Speaking of body copy, it should be no surprise by now to know that short paragraphs work better than long ones for Web and online communications. Web and online readers will avoid big blocks of text like vegans avoid steak, no matter how much delicious content they contain.